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Supporting Women’s Health Through All the Ages and Stages

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Women's Health Women's Health

The women’s health market continues to grow as consumers develop more awareness of natural options.

Hot flashes, cramps, restless legs, growing pains, weight gain and fatigue: What do all of these have in common? They’re common issues that women of all ages deal with. From the new adolescent whose body is preparing for menstruation to a woman in her later years seeking increased vitality, women’s bodies are always in a state of flux. The health issues that women face, too, come in all sizes and shapes, just like the women experiencing them.

Curious about what the most important health concerns are for women now? Which health products and ingredients may help women the most? And how can ingredient manufacturers can meet the needs of product creators and suppliers? These are all questions that will be explored in depth.

Key Issues in Women’s Health Now

It’s been nearly six months since National Women’s Health Month was observed here in the United States. This weeklong event is a time to focus on the health of women and is headed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH). While most of the steps for better health recommended by the OWH are widespread across genders and ages—things like regular doctor’s visits, maintaining a healthy weight, staying active and quitting smoking or vaping—other considerations are important for women alone to consider. Serious health issues that women face include ovarian and cervical cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, gynecological health issues, autoimmune disorders, depression and anxiety.

Maggie McNamara, marketing director at Gencor in Texas, stated that the global women’s health and beauty supplements market size was valued at $49.8 billion (U.S.) in 2019 and is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.75 percent from 2020 to 2026.

“Rising incidences of hormonal imbalances as a consequence of poor dietary habits, increasing stress levels and alcohol consumption is driving the market growth,” McNamara stated. “Increasing awareness regarding preventive health practices and the presence of a large women population suffering from menstrual disorders is also boosting the product demand. Moreover, rising geriatric population, mental health issues and increasing prevalence of chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases will boost growth,” she said.

As more is learned about natural treatment options and alternatives to both over-the-counter and prescribed medications, there is increased interest in the use of natural products to support women’s health. Stress is a significant issue for many women now. The pandemic resulted in higher levels of stress for most people, however, working women faced significantly more stress than many others.

Between balancing home and family tasks—often while socially isolated and juggling remote work and school for children–women are more likely now to consider leaving the workforce, according to an article by McKinsey & Company. Though this has been a trend since 2015, the article states, the numbers have increased during COVID-19. For those women who aren’t considering a move, seeking stress reduction is still a high priority.

When asked what key issues women are facing now related to their health, Michael Chernyak of CK Nutraceuticals located in Ontario, Canada, stated, “Where do we begin? There are many—these include stress management, mood balance, cognitive performance, digestive health, energy, bone and joint support, beauty-from-within, menopause relief and more.” Chernyak went on to explain, “Natural products need to be experiential—the female consumer wants to feel a benefit, as per the product promise.”

Angie Rimel, marketing communications manager at GELITA in Iowa, noted that in addition to these health concerns, younger women are also a more health-minded demographic. “As teenagers become more aware of their own physiology, they often turn to sports and higher levels of physical activity, leading to stress on joints and ligaments.”

Rimel noted that women of all ages are becoming more health aware and self-conscious of the roles that they juggle. “These consumers are increasingly recognizing the significant roles that nutrition and natural ingredients play within the body to support healthy aging, hair and skin health,” she explained. “As a result, nutraceutical solutions will continue to become part of everyday life for many, as they seek out ingestible products to supplement healthy diets and active lifestyles.”

At Gencor the company focuses heavily on helping women through menopause. “As a natural component of the female life cycle, symptoms of menopause are linked to the rapid and substantial decline in estrogen levels that occur when menstrual cycles cease and can last between one to 10 years,” stated McNamara. She said that common symptoms are hot flashes, sleeplessness and night sweats. “Post menopause brings additional challenges like anemia, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, obesity and depression,” McNamara stated. “Two ingredients from Gencor’s portfolio are available for menopause support, Libifem and Genopause.”

State of The Market: Women’s Health Products & Ingredients

Vice President of Certified Nutraceuticals, Inc. in California, Abdul Alkayali, is encouraged by the resilience of the women’s health market, despite the pandemic. He said, “The market for women’s supplements remains strong as more women of all ages take a proactive and holistic approach to their health.” He noted the following trends in women’s health: a focus on being strong and athletic rather than skinny, healthy aging and concerns about cognitive health.

Regarding the last point, Alkavali noted, “According to a study in Neurobiology Aging, there is a detectable decline in some cognitive skills starting at age 27. Two-thirds of Americans experience some level of cognitive impairment at an average age of 70 years.” He stated, “So, it is not surprising that Grand View Research estimates that the global brain health supplements market was $6 billion (U.S.) in 2018, with an expected CAGR of 8.2 percent through 2025.”

Chernyak called the current women’s health market very “buoyant,” and said, “Female consumers of all ages and stages are increasingly seeking natural products which are proven safe and effective, for themselves, and for their families.” Likewise, he noted, “Scientific backing is very important to them—they want to see published clinical studies demonstrating effectiveness.”

McNamara stated that she’s encouraged by the focus of “real health” in the women’s health marketplace, rather than perceptual health. “In other words, fat-burning pills and detox teas, are out as they are often more detrimental to your health than they are good. Instead, women are focusing on building lean muscle so not only can they maintain their active lifestyles, but they are acknowledging the importance of muscle mass in age-related diseases.”

Nootropics are an area that she foresees will continue to boom as these are helpful when coping with high stress and mood management, said McNamara. “Another staple of the women’s health market is probiotic innovation, and now with more and more studies on the importance of gut health and how it affects immunity and general wellbeing, this will most likely continue,” she stated.

Lastly, McNamara said, more natural solutions to feminine health issues like yeast infections, UTIs and sexual health appear to be a continued area of growth for many companies. “Having open conversations about previously taboo subjects has opened the doors for more research on supplements specifically addressing women’s health issues,” said McNamara, “And newer products support the specific needs of the female microbiome and provide support in areas unique to that of women alone.”

Richard Kozlenko DPM, MPH, PhD at GCI Nutrients Science in California, stated that he too is encouraged by the high interest in the women’s health market at present. “The market is exploding with products and ingredients specifically for women’s health. It’s really a function in the convergence of a number of factors,” Kozlenko said. He attributed this growth to the avoidance or minimization of costs and side effects which may accompany the use of pharmaceuticals, the impact of the pandemic and its resulting interest in self-care, women living longer lives with an emphasis on healthy aging and higher quality control in the natural health industry, along with other factors.

Innovative Products & Ingredients in Women’s Health Products

Chernyak is excited about some of the newer evidence-backed ingredients being launched in various health-benefit areas. Some examples he gave were green oat extract for cognitive support, saffron extract for mood balance, maqui berry extract for eye health, blood glucose management and oral beauty, as well as ashwagandha extract for stress management. “Many of these raw materials can be incorporated into a variety of dosage formats beyond traditional tablets and capsules,” said Chernyak. “This includes powders, liquids, gummies and more.”

Alkayali noted that at Certified Nutraceuticals, several innovative functional ingredients meet the interests of both women and men, but women particularly. Products focused on joint health are of particular interest to consumers, he said. “The rapidly growing market for collagen as a functional ingredient for joint health shows no signs of slowing.” He noted, “The global collagen market is expected to expand at a 6 to 8 percent CAGR rate and to generate as much as $7.5 billion (U.S.) in sales by 2027, according to Grand View Research.”

Not all collagens are created equally though, noted Alkayali. “TendoGuard is the only clinically tested blend of avian sternum and eggshell membrane that delivers the collagen types (I, II, V, and X) essential for maximizing bone, cartilage and tissue repair. TendoGuard is optimized for bioavailability and bioactivity with collagen peptides are the right molecular size to ensure uptake and preservation of naturally occurring mucopolysaccharides, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin and glucosamine. Smaller collagen peptides (< 20kD), a product of too much hydrolysis, lose these organic compounds that are essential for maintaining and building strong, healthy joints and connective tissues,” he explained.

Another area of great interest to female consumers is brain health and cognitive function, Alkayali noted. “The human brain has 100 billion neurons that communicate to each other using special chemicals called neurotransmitters that enable us to think, learn and create or recall memories. Many neurotransmitters are made from amino acids.” To supplement the body’s need for these, he noted, the company developed a superfood for the brain called KollaJell. The product is made in part by wild-caught, edible jellyfish and is a complete protein, said Alkayali, containing all 20 essential and nonessential amino acids.

Karin Hermoni, head of product and science, at Lycored with headquarters in New Jersey, noted that the company’s ingestible skin care range includes products like Lycoderm and Lumenato. These products, state Hermoni, maximize the skin care and sun care benefits of tomato phytonutrients to support women in aging beautifully. “Lycoderm marries tomato nutrients and rosemary while Lumenato is derived from a special breed of golden tomatoes,” said Hermoni. “Both support skin health in a range of ways.”

Another ingredient that is a great addition to products targeted at women, Hermoni said, is vitamin D3. “In fact, Innova Market Insights data shows that it was the fastest-growing ingredient in women’s health supplements between 2015 and 2019, with a CAGR of 24 percent.” Hermoni explained, “We recently launched Capsudar D3 1000E—a highly concentrated D3 which delivers 1 million IU/g of vitamin D3, making it ideal for multivitamins, as it creates more space for other vitamins and minerals. It also provides 81 mg toward a 1 g daily dose of calcium.”

Functional foods are another area of potential growth in the women’s health market. Rimel noted, “People today are increasingly keen to understand how functional foods and supplements work. Consequently, industry and consumers alike are demanding a higher level of scientific substantiation. It is essential that the functionality of the active ingredient is based on credible science and has been proven in high-quality clinical studies,” she said. “Those ingredients that are proven effective and safe will have a higher priority with both formulators and consumers.”

Rimel noted that all GELITA’s products have been tested in numerous preclinical and clinical studies to confirm their beneficial effects and safety. One of the company’s popular products is Bioactive Collagen Peptides (BCP) which she stated are flexible and uniquely positioned to target specific health benefits that are important to healthy aging and performance nutrition. The versatility of this product makes them useful in many other combinations, she explained. For example, it’s used in BODYBALANCE to support body toning and increased muscle strength, and in FORTIBONE to support the improvement of bone mass density and bone stability along with flexibility, along with other combinations.

Jackie Rizo is the content coordinator at Stratum Nutrition located in Missouri. She noted that increased interest in the nutricosmetics market—which is the use of beauty supplements that also help to treat deficiency in the body, is an interesting trend. “The nutricosmetics and the beauty-from-within market is booming as self-care becomes more important to consumers taking charge of their own health. While the mouth is one of the most vital body parts to our health, we often overlook its significance,” stated Rizo. “Over the past year, we have seen an increase in consumers of all ages becoming more health-conscious and understanding the importance of healthy aging and how it begins within.”

Rizo went on to explain, “Seen as a gateway to the rest of the body, the mouth is a constant battleground. On a daily basis, billions of invading bad bacteria attempt to displace the natural and beneficial bacteria of the mouth, teeth, and gums. BLIS, one of the best-known probiotics for oral health, Rizo noted, was developed by scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand. “It is a specific strain of Streptococcus salivarius (S. salivarius), which secretes powerful antimicrobial molecules called BLIS: Bacteriocin-Like-Inhibitory-Substances. There are different BLIS ingredients available, including K12 and M18,” she said. “The difference between K12 and M18 are the health function or indications. While both BLIS probiotic strains start to work in the mouth—K12 supports ENT/immune health and M18 supports dental health.”

Research: What Are Today’s Manufacturers and Suppliers Interested In?

“Animal studies no longer hold water,” stated Chernyak. “The expectation is that studies are randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials, involving human subjects, that are published in peer-reviewed journals. The trend is toward ingredients with multiple studies.” He explained, “It’s important that the ingredients be used at therapeutic levels in finished goods, at dosages that align with the clinical research.”

Kozlenko noted, “A range of research on probiotics that have specific functions in helping to support cognitive, blood sugar, immune and even cytokine-induced inflammation as well as the health of our microbiome. The use of polyphenolics as part of the armamentarium of nutrients against bone loss is increasingly being recognized,” he said. “It is noted that for instance, olive oil, as in the Mediterranean diet, and olive leaf extract, up-regulates ‘osteoblast’ activity.”

This bone-building helps to damper osteoclast and downregulate and balance the “osteoclast bone remodeling.” In addition, Kozlenko stated, since osteoporosis is considered an inflammation process that results in bone loss, antioxidants can help to mollify this. “Another innovative ingredient is the use of OrthoSlicic Acid (OSA) in stimulating collagen synthesis and bone building,” he noted. “The great thing about OSA, [is that] a vegan or vegetarian can get similar benefits to collagen without having to resort to animal products. Silica is a very important part of the bone matrix and helps in very small amounts, making the bone architecture stronger.”

Marianne McDonagh, vice president of sales at Bioenergy Life Science, Inc. (BLS) located in Minnesota, stated that as cortisol is the hormone responsible for most menopausal symptoms, emphasis should be heavy on using ingredients backed by cortisol data in the proper age group. “This makes RiaGev-FEM the popular choice,” she stated, because “It works to alleviate cortisol-dependent symptoms across the entire menopausal spectrum: perimenopause, pre-menopause, menopause and post-menopause. It works in a shorter amount of time than other cortisol-lowering ingredients, and is more bioavailable, making your women’s health products more appealing to women as they experience menopause, no matter what stage they are in.”

Hermoni stated, “Nutritional support claims are vital, so extensive laboratory and clinical testing is an important part of our process. For instance, we recently carried out research into Lycoderm which showed that its blend of tomato and rosemary extracts has a synergistic effect that could help balance skin cells’ response to environmental challenges,” she stated. “This followed a study the previous year showing that it can benefit overall skin condition, as well as visibly boosting radiance and reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. “Safety and efficacy are our top priorities and we’re proud to offer natural products with evidence-based results.”

Nena Dockery, scientific and regulatory affairs manager at Stratum Nutrition said, “Groundwork that is based upon science along with published research on ingredients and the formulations created from them provide an extra level of knowledge into anticipated functioning in the body and indicate that the suppliers of those ingredients are committed to the consumer and not just to their bottom line.” She noted, “Research that encompasses a broad range of study types including clinical randomized controlled trials, in-vitro mode-of-action studies and animal studies cannot only demonstrate that a product works, but also provide answers regarding how it works, can substantiate safety and can sometimes reveal unanticipated benefits.”

Meeting the Needs of Manufacturers & Suppliers

“Raw material suppliers tend to provide a great deal of support,” said Chernyak. “This includes documentation, samples, formulation guidance and more. Finished goods manufacturers and raw material providers can work together, collaboratively, to build safe and effective finished goods, in a variety of convenient formats, to provide important benefits to health-minded consumers across many demographic groups.”

Maria Stanieich, marketing manager at Kyowa Hakko USA, Inc., based in New York City, noted, that cutting-edge formulations with clinically studied ingredients continue to resonate with consumers. “There will continue to be a demand for scientifically proven and clinically safe ingredients to attract and build trust as consumers are using a range of supplements to ensure they are getting the necessary ingredients to fortify and manage their health,” she said. For manufacturers and suppliers, she noted that an understanding of this is beneficial. “Providing education and empowerment for women around how these ingredients help them to stay healthy and live their best lives will be key to resonating with this audience.”

Versatility is the name of the game, Rimel believes. Because GELITA BCPs has a neutral taste, Rimel noted, they can be incorporated into a diverse range of products. These also have high heat and acid stability and low viscosity. “They also offer fast absorption and good bioavailability and are free from fat and cholesterol,” she said. She believes that the market will see more diverse products like this designed to meet consumer needs. “For example, we expect to see even more variety in the types of non-pill products containing collagen—whether as functional foods or in novel delivery formats in the nutritional supplement space. Another interesting area with growth potential is combo products, where collagen peptides are included with other active ingredients, such as vitamins and minerals for multiple benefits.”

“Many people have already hit ‘pill fatigue,’ especially if they take pharmaceutical products in addition to their supplements,” Rizo stated. “As a result, she believes the current trend of functional products such as chews and gummies, will continue to grow in popularity, something that manufacturers and suppliers will want to keep an eye on. “There may also be a continued trend toward combination products or groups of products sold together to support several aspects of aging,” she said. “These may be a combination of food-type products, liquid supplements or beverages, and traditional pills and capsules.”

Hermoni said, “Women’s health needs vary hugely, so it’s important to create products that are designed to meet the demands of your target demographic. We offer a range of ingredients to support the needs of women of any age, including overall wellness and immunity, prenatal and pregnancy care, bone health and hormonal balance through menopause, cardiometabolic support, energy maintenance, skin health and appearance, and sun care.”

Offering ingredients that can be used in a multitude of ways is another important consideration. Alkayali noted, “All Certified Nutraceuticals ingredients are suitable for a variety of dietary supplement formats, including capsules, tablets, beverages and gummies.”

With new and innovative ingredients, delivery methods, and scientific backing, the outlook for the women’s health market continues to be strong. NIE

For More Information:

Bioenergy Life Science, www.bioenergylifescience.com
Certified Nutraceuticals, www.certifiednutra.com
CK Nutraceuticals, https://ckingredients.com/
GCI Nutrients, https://gcinutrients.com/
GELITA, www.gelita.com/en
Gencor, www.gencorpacific.com
Kyowa Hakko USA, Inc, www.kyowa-usa.com
Lycored, www.lycored.com
Stratum Nutrition, www.stratumnutrition.com

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